The Canadian Health care system provides good systemic maternal care. While rates are elevated compared to other developed countries a single country rate hides some important variation1. Additional variation and the statistical rise in maternal mortality in the last decade is apparently mostly due to new coding rules of what counts as maternal mortality2
By law Canada defines maternal mortality as “[t]he death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes”. This definition is broad and adequately covers the variety of complications which arise from maternity. Each death is recorded as a direct or indirect3.
Access to exceptional care is easily available in all of the main provinces. Because there are very few births each year Newfoundland, Prince Edward, the Yukon and Nunuvut are outliers. With these countries maternal mortality rates average about 9 deaths per 100,000 live births, excluded it is about 7. Exceptional compared to the world, but still above average for a developed country. Of particular concern is the high birth rate of the native population, combined with remote access to sufficient medical services and higher rates of certain medical conditions which predispose the native population to additional health risk4. To address the higher maternal morality rate in the outlying area the Canadian government began to invest in a midwife training program5. It is unclear if the program has received enough founding and/or interest to impact rates.
- United Nations (UN), Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Concluding Observations (CO), 2006) 2 ↩
- Lisonkova et al 2011 ↩
- Public Health Agency of Canada ↩
- Health Canada ↩
- CEDAW 2002 105 ↩